Diagonal Couloir is the lower half of the Briggs-Boomer route on Mount Owen and is a pretty gnarly line for confident skiers. Not to make it a big deal, but both times I have skied this route I felt some pucker!
Reed was the companion once again and another rad sunrise assured us of a splendid sunny day to come. Glacier Gulch provides another couple of hours of monotonous trail breaking and the mp3 comes in useful once again. Once up to Delta Lake, we continue to climb the moraine up to Teton Glacier. If you pick the right route, there is minimal up and down on your way to the glacier. We decided not to climb the route we were going to ski, enabling us a better chance of success with the shorter days and long approach it would have been up Cascade Canyon into the Teewinot/Owen Cirque.
We pack our skis and bust out our ice axes and crampons at the base of the lower Koven Couloir. The views are amazing in upper Glacier Gulch, with the North Face of the Grand dominating the arena. The climbing is good and we continue through the middle bench into the upper Koven. The Koven Route is a great ski in itself…very steep, tight, technical skiing. I skied it years ago, maybe…1998…Reed would know. Finally we make it to the col above the couloir. I really want to ski on the upper flanks of Owen, but today will not be the day.
It hadn’t snowed in a while and we knew conditions wouldn’t be that great. I had talked to Brenden O’Neil a few days before, who had used the route for descent after climbing the North Ridge of Owen with Hans Johnstone, and he mentioned it was pretty wind hammered. We could see their reverse boot tracks in the snow from the col and it assured us of where we needed to go.
We finally got some good snow once in the Cirque and on our way down to Cascade Canyon. We applied some kick wax to our boards to make the slog back to Taggart a bit more enjoyable. This one felt good and it left me with that feeling you get after overcoming your fears.